This is the fifth in my series of posts about the five businessmen the History Channel profiled in a terribly inaccurate and un-historical miniseries titled The Men Who Built America. I’m writing these posts in response to several comments and e-mails from TV viewers who have expressed interest in a more accurate version of the story. (Click here to see all Al’s columns on the program and its subjects.)
Post #5: Vanderbilt to Traitors: “I Will Ruin You”
In 1835, the year Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland, Vanderbilt started offering steamboat service up Long Island Sound from New York City to Providence, Rhode Island, in anticipation of the completion of a railroad from Providence to Boston later that year. His competitor for this business was the Boston and New York Transportation Company, which operated six small steamboats in the Sound. This time, instead of launching into a price war, Vanderbilt decided to collude with the competition to keep prices high. He and the B&NY agreed on a price of eight dollars for one way service between New York and Providence.